Pan-Methodism: What is this?
January 31, 2017 / By Blenda Smith, CORR
Pan-Methodist Churches are plentiful in the Upper New York area. Have you noticed African American Episcopal (AME), African American Episcopal Zion (AMEZ), Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME), African Union Methodist Protestant, or Union American Methodist Episcopal Churches in your communities? Collectively, they are called Pan-Methodist Churches.
It has been over 200 years since Pan-Methodist Churches began separating from Methodism. Many African Americans chose to leave the Methodist Church when color and slavery were painful issues. African-Americans were forced from altar rails as they prayed, forced to stand at the side walls of churches, and relegated to segregation in hot balconies. Hence, many African Americans formed their own churches based on the tradition of Wesley.
In 2012, the United Methodist Church celebrated Full Communion with Pan-Methodist Churches, meaning full connection and relationship. At the General Conference service, CME Bishop Thomas Hoyt, Jr., “suggested the need for a ‘sacrament of the coffee cup’ to build individual friendships and commit to finding ways to break down barriers and promote justice together. Issues of race and class are not just sociological but theological because dealing with such issues ‘teaches us to get along together’” (Linda Bloom, United Methodist News Service multimedia reporter).
This past June, Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb attended the Western NY Conference session of the AME Zion Church. It is Bishop Webb’s hope that Bishop Proctor of the AME Zion will be available to attend a session of The Upper New York Conference in a coming year, as we build partnerships and relationships.
Bishop Webb said, “Our sisters and brothers of the AME Zion Church share our passion for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Their commitment to the communities they serve and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is inspiring. We share a rich theology and I look forward to future ways of living together as the Body of Christ.”